Brief Outline of Fracture of the Foot
A foot fracture may involve any of the twenty-six bones of the foot but most commonly occurs in the metatarsals. Contact sports and those that could result in high impact landing or collisions can lead to foot fractures. Those athletes with lower bone density due to poor nutrition, osteoporosis, (or inadequate or absent menstrual cycles in females) are more susceptible to fractures.
Anatomy and Physiology of Fracture of the Foot
The foot consists of twenty-six small bones. The seven tarsals form the ankle. The two largest tarsals carry the body weight: the calcaneus, or the heel bone, and the talus, which lies between the tibia and the calcaneus. The tibia and fibula rest on top of the talus. The five metatarsals are long, narrow bones that form the instep or sole of the foot and the fourteen phalanges consist of short, narrow bones that form the toes, with two joints in the big toe and three in the others. These bones, due to their location and shape, are more susceptible to fracture. When a force is applied to the shaft of the metatarsals, they may fracture.
Cause of Fracture of the Foot
Trauma to bones of the foot, e.g. fall, blow, collision, or violent twisting.
Signs and Symptoms of a Fracture Foot
Pain, which can be severe. Swelling and discolouration, and possible deformity at the fracture site. Pain when weight-bearing, and possible inability to walk. Numbness of the foot or toes.
Complications if Left the Fracture Foot Unattended
A fracture that is left untreated can lead to damage to the blood vessels and nerves in and around the fracture site. The bones may heal incorrectly or not heal at all. Weakness and instability in the foot may result as well.
Immediate Treatment for Fracture Foot
Ice, elevation, and possible immobilisation. Consult an orthopaedic surgeon.
Long-term Prognosis for Fracture Foot
If allowed to heal completely, a fracture will usually heal to become stronger than before the injury. In fractures that are compound or misaligned, surgical pinning may be required to stabilise the bone until it heals. If the ligaments are stretched or torn, the chance of re-injury increases.